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Question Number: 31813

League Specific 9/23/2017

RE: ayso Under 9

Curtis Nelson of Tehachapi, California usa asks...

I was removed from field because as a parent I was told 'you are coaching and it is not allowed. Asked for clarification and was threatened with causing the cancelation of the game. I was saying 'good job stay with the ball'. 'Good job 'keep your feet down' on thrown-in'Great job guys keep in your zones' I felt I was reinforcing skills taught by the coach and encouraging those skills. So my question is what terms are considered COACHING. Just trying to be a supportive parent. I've done same thing last 3 games and never got told.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Curtis
if had my way there would be no coaches, no referees just a game involving the kids. Unfortunately we bring adult values to the games and the no coaching rule is an attempt to limit the amount of shouting in at the kids while playing. Many higher level academies only allow parents to watch video feeds so as to prevent unhelpful coaching and distraction of player by parents. So what you have described here reads to me as possible coaching particularly when technical terms are used such as stay in zones, stay with the ball, feet down etc.
That is a long way from encouragement such as well done, well played, good job etc so if the rule exists then the referee was entitled to do what he did.
I acknowledge you desire to be a supportive parent. I believe you have to find a way that does not interfere with the game on the no coaching rule in the opinion of the referee. As you say three other referees did not deal with it. This referee chose to deal with it is HIS way and that is all that matters.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Curtis,
it is difficult to accept what it is you do not want to hear or you choose to disagree with it. The cognitive abilities for kids to focus is a developing process. There is a reason silent Sundays evolved it was not JUST the coaching but the constant yelling haranguing of less than enthusiastic support and ultimately distraction and unsettling attitudes on display were creating emotional carnage and instability among those playing and those in attendance or officiating.
The motto LET them play! does not mean we cannot express encouragement but it does remind us it is THEM that are playing WE are watching. Certain referees like certain coaches or certain players or certain parents have fixed ideas about what is or what is not acceptable. We all might be a little bit right or a little bit wrong but on the soccer pitch the referee has the final word as judgement for discretionary things often requires a final decision.
I might deal with you differently as did the other 3 but I at least hope you were requested to stop rather than expelled immediately. Yelling instruction even if valid there is a reason the youth programs have the shhhh program. Try to limit the content of your outbursts to what the referee has indicated is ok!
I have had over eager parents very well meaning not realize how they actually affect the kids. including stopping them from performing their duties on the field and invoking crying or emotional outburst.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

This is likely a league-specific emphasis, because they were getting too many negative comments from the sidelines. Sure, many people think they are giving positive support. But that's not always what it sounds like on the field. Things can be interpreted differently. To give your example, 'keep your feet down.' Maybe you intended it as a positive reinforcement. But they may have heard it as a criticism, unsaid but inferred, 'not like last time.'

Of course there is nothing about 'no coaching from the spectators' in the Laws of the Game, because how could that be enforced in a World Cup or professional game?

Many youth coaches actually appreciate these kinds of league rules. The coach may be working on some specific techniques and strategies. When the parents shout other instructions, the kids get confused. Let alone that by the time the kids hear the instruction, figure out what was meant, and try to execute it, it's probably too late and that may be the exactly wrong thing to do.

My concern is that it got so far that you were asked to leave the game. Right or wrong, the referee is always right, for that game. Maybe you can ask questions about their rulings after the game, or better have your coach ask. But during the game is not the time. As I read from one ref online this week, talking to a player who was an acquaintance, 'When have you known me to change a call based on your comments?' Players and coaches have to change their behaviors based on the referee, good or bad. This incident shows that spectators may need to do that as well.

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